LED Dimming Controls – Which one is right for you?
Buying LED lighting with the intention of using a dimmable control can be tricky. Although all our LED tapes can be dimmed, not all LEDs can be, and compatibility combining different technologies is crucial. That’s why our friendly technical team at Ultra LEDs, inspirational LED lighting supplier, is on hand to offer you advice and guide you towards the right system for you.
The ability to dim LED lighting is a relatively recent thing. Due to their low wattage, LED bulbs are rarely compatible with dimmers traditionally used for high wattage load incandescent’s and therefore specific drivers have been developed. Here are our most popular dimming solutions:
1. Mains Voltage Dimming
Our dimmable drivers are designed to power and dim constant voltage LEDs via a mains dimmer switch. They work by chopping out parts of the mains voltage and therefore reducing power to the LED. They can either be ‘trailing edge’ (ELV) or ‘leading edge’ (TRIAC). Here at Ultra LEDs we sell both ELV and TRIAC mains dimmers. The technical difference between the two requires a pretty in-depth science lesson, but here are the main differences:
Leading-edge mains dimmers are more simple and therefore the cheaper option. However, they usually have a higher minimum load which means a narrower dimming range for low-voltage bulbs like LEDs.
Trailing-edge mains dimmers are slightly more sophisticated, offering smooth, silent dimming (no more annoying buzzing) and are usually better suited to low-power bulbs like LEDs.
Control interface: Traditional wall dimmers, however, some are compatible with our Elencho control systems which use a radio frequency remote control – read more below.
Best suited for: If you already have LEDs in your home or office space which are integrated into your mains voltage system.
2. Radio Frequency Controllers
Radio frequency controllers are a great wireless option for dimming your strip lighting. Using radio frequency transmission between a handheld remote control and a receiver, they are really easy to install and sync up. Simply place a receiver between the driver and the run of LED tape you are installing. Endless receivers can be controlled from one remote and they can be grouped into ‘zones’ which can correspond to rooms in your house.
Control interface: Handheld remote control
Best suited for: if you’re installing LED strip lighting in your home and would like to control multiple rooms from one place.
DMX lighting controllers are much more specialist. They are typically used in theatres for smoother, more exact dimming as well as mixing and combining RGB lighting. However, they can be useful in hotels or homes for when you need a more sophisticated lighting control system. They are all wired and require a compatible driver.
Control Interface: Computer software or dedicated lighting desk.
Best suited for: Stage lighting.
Our brand new Zigbee LED control system offers wireless control over all your LED fixtures in your home. It can be used to integrate your lighting system into a smart-home hub such as Philips Hue® or Amazon Echo® Alexa, meaning you can dim your lighting via smartphone app or even voice command.
Zigbee can be installed with a mains voltage system and specified LED drivers, including our DALI drivers.
Control Interface:Wireless. Can be voice activated with Alexa, or via the Phillips Hue app.
Best suited for: Gadget-loving consumers who want a sleek, savvy home lighting system.
5. DALI Dimming
Short for ‘Digital Addressable Lighting Interface’ DALI is a specialist system using computer software to control LEDs. It includes the control interface, lamp response and the power connection and offers total, seamless control. As well as its dimming and on/off functions, DALI can control colour adjustment if you opt for RGB lighting. It is also compatible with automatic adjustment sensors – sensors which adjust the brightness of the lighting based on the amount of sunlight – a great feature for saving on electricity usage.
Control Interface: Wall-mounted DALI touchscreen.
Best suited for: Due to its ability to totally control lighting across several different circuits, DALI is best option for commercial lighting spanning across many areas.